Category Archives: Bird Behaviour

How birds behave, strange features, fighting, eating….

Goldcrest, bathing under waterfall on Flores

WintergoldhähnchenWalking a steep trail in search of North-American vagrants under the high cliffs near the little village of Ponta da Fajã on the west coast of Flores eventually I came to a waterfall right beside the hiking trail. I took a rest and was surprised to notice some movement close to the constant shower of water. I looked through the binoculars and saw a Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) feeding in the wet mosses on one side of the waterfall which falls down for 30 meters in a little pond. Quite a strange – and open – habitat for a Goldcrest. Obviously the main task was to search for food, but several times the bird raised the wings and it looked as if it was bathing under the waterfall.

Although quite a common bird on mainland Europe, this small, chubby and restless passerine bird (the smallest bird in Europe) is undoubtedly one of the favorite companions during hiking walks inside dense forests and natural scrub of the island of Flores. Its constant hissing, combined with its innate curiosity, make this bird an easy species to observe, as long as you are patience and listen to its high-pitched calls. Its nesting in Portugal is restricted to the Continue reading Goldcrest, bathing under waterfall on Flores

European Nightjar feeding habit

ZiegenmelkerWhen the sun has set and dusk turns to darkness, a discreet purring is heard often over the heath in Brandenburg´s landscape south of Berlin. The rhythmic purr of the Eurasian or European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) is increasing in volume in the background. The time lags between the purring of the Nightjar become shorter more and more. Finally, the male begins to patrol its territory. Slow, excessive wing beats enhance the impression of a relevant actor in the night theatre. It is beautiful to admire the white spots on the tail edge and the primaries. Only a few moment, this event takes place; then the Nightjar has disappeared already in the adjacent ash grove.

Like all members of the family, the European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) is an almost exclusively aerial feeder that feed in continuous hawking flight, which may be rather erratic as they pursue their prey. European Nightjars hunts moths, beetles and Continue reading European Nightjar feeding habit

Little Greenbuls fly catching insects in the rain

Having been in Campo Ma’an National Park in southern Cameroon already the 2nd day, we experienced a heavy thunderstorm with endless rain. Probably not the first front of the rainy season brought heavy rain and thunder – and myriads of flying insects.

Just outside our basic camp, birds made sallies into the air, to catch insects that started flying in the rain. It is amazing what the combination of the Canon 400mm f4.0 DO IS USM and the EOS 1DX can perform in the rainy weather. Then the question quickly arose: “What bird do the photos show?” immediately I supposed a Greenbul or Bulbul. A Common or Garden Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus) show the great flight recordings certainly not. I recalled in my notes, that besides swallows and swifts, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher (Erythrocercus mccallii) and some Sunbirds had also participated in the flycatching orgy during the rain on the clearing that day.

After consultation with an ornithologist specialized in African Continue reading Little Greenbuls fly catching insects in the rain

Black Jacobin in the Itatiaia NP/ Rio de Janeiro

TrauerkolibriWhite flashes on the tail of an almost completely black bird is hovering in the air. Not far from me, a hummingbird is feeding on a nectar stick. The ornitologist and German naturalist Helmut Sick described the Black Jacobin (Florisuga fusca) as abundant and the most frequent species of hummingbird in Macai de Cima (or Macaé de Cima), near Nova Friburgo in the state Rio de Janeiro.

After my 2nd visit to to the Itatiaia NP near the village of Penedo, district of Itatiaia (RJ), I would like to say that the abundance of this hummingbird species in the Rio de Janeiro summer can be observed here in “little Finlandia”, and it is also known that this is a  quiet and funny place – here where is located a Continue reading Black Jacobin in the Itatiaia NP/ Rio de Janeiro

Black Grouse on leks in the snowy spring of Finland

BirkhuhnNature photographers, who visit the snow-capped central Finland in early April, might observe a very special natural event: the mating display of the Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix).  If you want to take pictures of the mating display, you should go to Scandinavia for nature conservation reasons alone. For the last remnants of domestic populations the stress of photography is too high.

You have to get up early in order to get a good night’s sleep in the stable, well-insulated wooden cabinets with mattresses and old sleeping bags before daybreak. In the hiding place you have to be completely calm. Gradually, the cocks come closer to the snow-capped plain. A sound makes the presence of the cocks divine; It is a quiet cooing to hear.

In the morning dawn the first cocks of Black Grouse appear on the mating grounds . They announce their arrival with vigorous hissing. Then they begin to walk back and forth with little tripple steps. The wings grind deeply over the ground. They make rolling sounds. With sounds like this: “Kuluku -Lulluku -Kulluku”.

30 cocks run in front of the hiding places in quite a narrow area. If they come close to imaginary limits, they take an imposition. For two or three, they walk along the border parallel to the border. In such moments, they call particularly loudly. They try to force the opponent to turn back. Both cocks are hissing and spitting sounds when they try to persuade the opponent to repent. The images in the gallery show the vigorous fights of the Black Grouse cocks.

All this takes place according to a fixed “ritual”. If none of the Continue reading Black Grouse on leks in the snowy spring of Finland

Remarks to wintering Solitary Sandpipers (Tringa solitaria) in the Pantanal

EinsiedelwasserläuferDuring scientific research in the northern Pantanal between the 20th of December 2012 and the 10th of January 2013 I often observe Solitary Sandpipers along the muddy ditches on a farm. Of the two subspecies of the solitary sandpiper recognized the subspecies present probably was Tringa solitaria solitaria which usually has a more well-defined streak between the eye and the bill which are clearly visible on the images shot. On the other hand Tringa solitaria cinnamomea typically lacks these streaks, being more finely spotted and speckled instead. First I saw the Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) on the muddy fringes of small pools, where you could see them from wooden bridges crossing these waters. There were no more but 3 individuals which you could see at one time. In between 10 days the water level rose by about half a meter. After that you only saw Solitary Sandpipers on muddy pieces of grassland between leaves of grass. These patches were characterized by highly degraded grassland, where cattle used to feed on quite recently.

The Solitary Sandpipers were never numerous and obviously preferred the open muddy shores of various types of pools. In „Birds of Brazil, The Pantanal & Cerrado of Central Brazil“ von J. Gwynne, Continue reading Remarks to wintering Solitary Sandpipers (Tringa solitaria) in the Pantanal

Rufous Hornero on a termite mound

Rosttöpfer The Rufous Hornero (Furnarius rufus) is so common in the Pantanal, that you hardly think of taking a picture, as you think, that you will do it next day. Ok, this time some pictures were shot, when the bird was standing on a termite mound. There is some examination ungoing to study the interaction between birds and termites in Brazil. A study found 218 bird species feeding on termites or using termitaria for nesting or perching . The study found out, that termites are used as a food source are exploited as a nest site for some bird species as well. Some bird species also perch on the top of termite mounds to search for their prey or to conduct territorial or courtship displays.

The Rufous Hornero is one – or the best-known- of the Ovenbirds and is from the same family as the Woodcreepers or the Spinetails. The bird looks a bit like a thrush but is very plain with a dirty white supercilium and a rather long, slightly Continue reading Rufous Hornero on a termite mound

Rusty-fronted Tody-flycatcher at the nest

Rostzügel-TodityrannA trip during a scientific excursion in the northern Pantanal between the 20th of December 2012 and the 10th of January 2013 showed a lot of excitement. One day I perceived a movement right along the path I was walking. A small bird with a transversely lying blade of grass quickly disappeared in the thicket. I can then see the place where a Rusty-fronted Tody-flycatcher (Poecilotriccus altirostris) diligently enters his nesting material. It appears to be an Cerrado islet that stand out slightly. The area is well closed with tight standing stems. Nevertheless, I get access to this only 3 meters in diameter measuring grove. After all, I’m standing right in front of his hanging nest. Only a short time later the Continue reading Rusty-fronted Tody-flycatcher at the nest

Andean Cock-of-the-rock in Manu/ Peru

Andenklippenvogel oder AndenfelsenhahnThe spectacular Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana) suddenly sits on a branch in the middle of the thicket. In the middle of a pristine Cloud Forest lies the legendary spot, where you can photograph the most beautiful orange bird full-frame.

Whether you travel in the mist forest of Manu or into the wilderness of Amazonia, starting point in each case is the city of the Inka, Cusco, at 3.500 m height. Over treeless ande passes and past small villages the off-road vehicle transports you towards the north-east to the Kosñipata Valley at the South East of Peru. The transition from the dry zone takes place almost seamlessly at 4,000 m asl. to the eternally damp region of the fog, from bright sunshine to twilight. After five hours drive you reach the tree border, which is located in the tropical Andes at about 3,500 m. This is where the Manu National Park begins. Up to heights of 3,000 m, the narrow pass road is lined with bizarre “elfin forests”, barely man-high, gnarled, lichen-covered trees that are hundreds of years old and still have only a trunk diameter of less than 10 cm, The further you descend the higher trees are. In the fog, sometimes on the silhouettes of mighty trees are visible, and the trees are covered with bromeliads. After a further three hours of adventurous journey you reach the target location: The valley of the Rio Kosnipata on the southeast edge of the Manu National Park. The ornithological highlight is the Andean Cock-of-the-rock. In the midst of the cloud forest is the legendary place, where you can photograph the spectacular Red Rock-fountain in full format. Near the simple lodge, with the auspicious name “Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge”, you will find Continue reading Andean Cock-of-the-rock in Manu/ Peru

Graveyard Blackbirds in the snow

Amsel, MännchenIt is cold in Germany. There had been snow the last few nights before. But now it thaws again. The air is cold and clear. The main part in a vast park cemetery is still as packed with a 5 cm thick layer of snow. Only the paths are cleared temporarily by a snow plow. Ok, this is already not a real winter, but there is snow and in between comes out even the sun. Ideal conditions for a walk in the park of the cemetery. On careful examination, there are encountered many blackbirds constantly in the cemetery over the winter. The population of the Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula) seem to have increased again now with snow. Everywhere you see a dark bird flit from a side of the road to the other. Under each second (coniferous) trees the ground is intensively scratched. A regularity is not really visible. However, there seems to be a preference for conifers, under which twigs are intensively inverted. A short picking in the substrate and again…..

A park cemetery, which is not too neat is ideal. Winter food for Blackbirds but also Common Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs) – besides what lies under leaves and scatter – is offered e.g. by the Barberry. The Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) is a nearly 3 meters tall, Continue reading Graveyard Blackbirds in the snow

Young Whinchat on summer morning

BraunkehlchenA fresh morning. Thick layers of fog are lying over the wetlands of the Nuthe floodplain south of Berlin. The weather forecast was perfect and everywhere there were numerous motives. So I took advantage of every free minute in the morning to be outside. The meadows along the river offer a diverse habitat structure. One family of Whinchats (Saxicola rubetra) with at least 2 juveniles were seen in uncut grassland. I placed the car not far from a pole inside the meadow, hoping a young Whinchat, I had seen before, to return. After a while the recently fledged Whinchat really returned to the pole. In the first morning light, it started to preen and stretch the wings. Obviously it wanted to get rid of their youngster’s feather dress. Successful, as it seems. With a surprised look, the young Whinchat looked after the flying plume.

The area south of Berlin has a lot to offer in terms of nature. In addition to the natural richness this is a legacy of the division of Germany, which has prevented the city´s spread after the end of the 2nd World War like in no other city. This means, that even today you often have to pass the city limits only in order to stand in the middle of nature. One of these areas is the Continue reading Young Whinchat on summer morning

Display flights of European Honey-buzzards

WespenbussardSpring is the best time to observe a flying or circling European Honey-buzzard (Pernis apivorus) on their breeding grounds. Now is Display time! Since the breeding birds arrive until the middle of May in the breeding area, bird watchers and bird photographers have to hurry-up to take pictures of European Honey-buzzards. This is because oviposition falls on the brink of May/ June. At the end of June / beginning of July, the youngs appear and at to the beginning of August fledging starts.

There are two periods of activity for the adult European Honey-buzzards: display and post-fledging. Display takes place in Germany from mid of May till early June. There is a time lag between spring migration observations and display flights. It seems, that on first arrival in early May the birds are rather lazy perhaps feeding and resting after the long migration. The lazy flight with long periods of effortless floating, interspersed with the very occasional stall or spell of active flapping, occurs over their breeding areas at this time. This can be misinterpreted as migration flight. In this time very impressive and repeated display flights – “butterfly display” – is brief and in rainy springs may not be conspicuous. In “butterfly mode” the European Honey-buzzard shakes its wings above back in rapid succession, usually six or seven times.

A good description you will find here. The author mentions, that Continue reading Display flights of European Honey-buzzards

Common Kingfisher feeding female

Eisvogel

A Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) on its perch is the image! Many nature photographers are keen on getting on – or more – of this. Highlight is action, which could mean feeding or diving for food. Between February and March of Kingfisher starts dating. Before Kingfishers are ready to mate, the female have to be brought into the right mood. For this purpose, the male woos his selected counterpart and offer presents, in many cases small fishes. Obviously feeding the female is a very important contribution to the pair bond. Nice photo opportunities are possible from a photo hide in der Feldberger Seenlandschaft in the northern part of Brandenburg. A lake called Hechtsee is full of fishes. End of April a pair of kingfishers could be photographed. At dawn first mating could be observed and photographed and in the course of the morning, at least threetimes feeding action could be photographed. Luckily for photographers feeding the female is therefore not only limited to the time prior to mating.

Up to 8 eggs are hatched alternately by the Kingfisher pair in a period of just three weeks. Until they get their full plumage, it takes Continue reading Common Kingfisher feeding female

Patience for a G(h)ost-Hawk

Habicht….no birds and no squirrels to hear around. Snow is falling. The table for the Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) finally is beautifully covered with snow. This gives great pictures from the Northern Goshawk – if he is coming. After a while, the first Chicadees are to be seen. First Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and Great Tits (Parus major) and finally the rest of the bunch: Willow Tits (Poecile montanus), Coal Tits (Periparus ater) and Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus). All can be observed around the feeders filled to the top with grain. A little later, the first Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius) arrives. At some time in the morning, there a intensively calling Eurasian Jays is to be heard. Is there about the Goshawk? Maybe just sitting in the neighborhood on a branch? Waiting for a secure situation to feed? Nothing to see. It’s almost midday and I’m already a bit discouraged. I am sitting here for more than 6 hours and I still have not triggered a single shot. Continue reading Patience for a G(h)ost-Hawk

European Honey-buzzards: Fall Migration Denmark – Germany

WespenbussardIn order to satisfy the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of Palaearctic, Bird-lens.com has made a trip in early September to the best birding area in Germany to observe migration of the European (or: Western) Honey-buzzards (Pernis apivorus).

A very interesting scientific work concerning migration strategies of Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus) through an Isthmus area in southern Italy gave helpful information. The authors counted in total, 1346 (19%), 4727 (65%), and 1177 (16%) Western Honey Buzzards along 3 routes. They were called the western, central, and eastern corridors. The time of day had a significant effect on the visible migration; the passage showed an evident peak in the afternoon at 1:20 – 3:19 p.m.. Along the eastern corridor, the proportion of migrants was significantly Continue reading European Honey-buzzards: Fall Migration Denmark – Germany

Cleptoparasitism between White-tailed Eagles

SeeadlerAlthough it is said, that kleptoparasitism (or cleptoparasitism) is relatively uncommon in birds, some Skuas – as the Great Skua (Stercorarius skua),  Jaegers – as the or the Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus) – and Frigatebirds are famous of taking prey from another bird that has caught. In this case, two White-tailed Eagles – a juvenile and an adult individual – were observerd and photographed.

White-tailed Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) are able to detect prey from a very far distance, and then a small dot in the sky very quickly transforms into a giant bird of prey swooping down from a great height. The White-tailed Eagle catches – its impressive claws already Continue reading Cleptoparasitism between White-tailed Eagles

Photo Project: Dancing Great Bustard in Germany

Grosstrappe, männlichDancing Great Bustard (Otis tarda) at dawn. That must be a great photo project. The courtship is an incredible spectacle. The male Great Bustard transforms himself into a large, white ball of feathers. To do so, he turns the brown, patterned flight feathers out so that the white underside and the white feathers of the elbow face upwards. Than the tail flips up to the back and shows only the white down feathers. On a morning in mid March everything seems perfect. After a period of bad weather, it had cleared the day before and the weather forecast had announced freezing temperatures. When I left early in the morning, the sky was filled with stars. Not a cloud covered the sky and of the temperatures were in the minus degrees – as promised. One of the areas for the Great Bustard is a good half hour away from the my home town. The morning sun had cast a strip on the eastern horizon Continue reading Photo Project: Dancing Great Bustard in Germany

Joined hunting with Hen Harrier

KornweiheThe lowlands of the Havellaendische Luch at Buckow – 50 km west of Berlin – as an unique area of meadows and fields. Actually known as the top territory in Germany to observe Great Bustards (Otis tarda), it is a perfect winter habitats, especially for wintering raptors as well. Different species of flying predators such as Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus), Merlin (Falco columbarius) and sometimes a Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) use the high diversity of the meadows , pastures and fields around to pick up their food. The White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) is a feeding guest, too. Unlike the species mentioned above, he does not keep up with mice but tries to chase the many Geese grazing in the area. Unfortunately, he also attacks some of the precious Great Bustards (Otis tarda).

While visiting the Havelländische lynx very interesting observations of hunting Northern Harriers chasing songbirds Continue reading Joined hunting with Hen Harrier

Moorhen chases Snipe at Rieselfelder Munster

Moorhen_DSF40101

Migration season starts in Germany right now. One of the best places to see especially the early fall migrants – the waders – is the old sewage farm in the north of Muenster, called Rieselfelder Munster. Early morning, 6:30 am. Still dawn. Haze over the water and I am watching through a well located hide here on the edge of the best lagoon, called E1. Waders are my main interest, but I would not complain, if an early Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana) or Continue reading Moorhen chases Snipe at Rieselfelder Munster

European Bee-eaters in Bulgaria

European Bee-eater at branchI am just back from a trip to Bulgaria. The purpose was to photograph European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) during a busy young feeding period. Honestly this was the main target of the trip. The birds had arrived in Bulgaria for quite a while. Thus feeding of the young were almost finished. Feeding on their breeding tube. This was a bit disappointing. However I still had good photo opportunities of this incredibly adorable birds.

I decided to spent at least four days with these colourful birds. Thanks to the help and advice of a friend who worked the area one year ago, I easily found a good site and decided to pitch a tented hide. This on top of an escarpment of a sand pit. There were also sandbanks next to the Bee-eaters colony. But the perspective on top was best. To my delight 2 or sometimes even 3,4,5 birds were landing on a perch, flying away, landing again. What a spectacle. There was plenty of action.

As the Bee-eaters are more active feeding early in the morning, I decided to come back at dawn. This time I set – up my hide before the sunrise and to my big relieve birds started to turn up again with the first light. As the name suggests bees are on the top of the menu for bee – eaters, but they are chasing dragonflies, Continue reading European Bee-eaters in Bulgaria

A gravel pit: home for Sand Martins

UferschwalbeOccasionally, I drive a lonely country road along. Right beside the road a gravel pit, excavated only in the back part, can be found. The mine is located in a flat agricultural area. Scenic beauty is only revealed to the connoisseur . Many walkers or joggers therefore do not pass by. Once, I passed by with the car and parked next to an embankment. Flying Bank Swallows or Sand Martins (Riparia riparia) could be seen on and near their breeding tubes only a few meters away. They did not felt bothered Continue reading A gravel pit: home for Sand Martins

Birds in courtship and singing behaviour

Great Reed-WarblerWith the beginning of spring, the days get longer and the birds awaken to seemingly new life. For the males now the time of the highest activity begins. Everyone is keen to conquer a territory and find a mate. For this purpose, the birds have developed a variety of optical and acoustic methods, and specific behaviors in the course of their evolutionary history.

Singing is probably the most common type of attracting a mate among birds. In contrast to the calls produced by both sexes and which can be heard all year, singing is usually presented only by the males during the mating season. Many of our native birds here in Germany, such as Robins, Tits or Blackbirds start to sing already in late winter. Thus they are among the most striking signs of spring. Then gradually new voices add to the concert Continue reading Birds in courtship and singing behaviour

Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax) photography in Extremadura

Littel Bustard male in displayThe sun is still high in the sky, although it is almost 6:00 pm. As far as the eye can see : steppe, interrupted now and then by eroded rocks . Above the ground , the air shimmers . In the car there is indescribable heat. After last year’s winter precipitation had failed in the Extremadura, everything looks withered. And yet it teems with soil insects, especially grasshoppers. It let the routes appear in a green. Dark- gray colour. Again and again Continue reading Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax) photography in Extremadura

Common Black-headed Gull hunted by a Peregrine in the sewage farm near Muenster

WanderfalkeWhile searching for the Green-winged Teal which still can be seen on the pond E1 in the sewage farm Münster, I was also able to observe and photograph a successfully hunting Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) a young Common Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus).

With binoculars I watched from the hide at the entrance to the E1 and saw gulls, ducks and waders. There were a lot of Black-headed Gulls in the area, some already in courtship mood, some mating. Suddenly a tumult arose and the sky was filled with white Continue reading Common Black-headed Gull hunted by a Peregrine in the sewage farm near Muenster

Mating of Common Buzzards on spruce top

MäusebussardDuring a visit on a fairly high mountain in the Taunus first mountain chain, the Atzelberg, in early March it was possible to observe and photograph the copulation of a pair of the Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo). On top of the Atzelberg there is a lookout tower, which gave the perfect position to photograph this unique event. The mating season begins usually in early spring in Middle Europe. During the mating Continue reading Mating of Common Buzzards on spruce top

Black Grouse on lek in Finland

Black GrouseIn Germany it is almost a dying experience: the sound of Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix) in early spring. The indigenous population in the Rhoen – a mountaninour area in the middle of Germany –  is almost extinct. Only in the Alps a vital population still survives.

If you want to take pictures of the Black Grouse in courtship, one should trip to Scandinavia – also from nature conservation point of view. It is not acceptable to expose even the last remnants of native populations to the stress of photography. In the spring of 2013 I was travelling in the vicinity of the Gulf of Bothnia to Oulu in Finland. During a workshop near this northern part of the Baltic sea in Finland from 5th – 8th of April 2013 I shot images of a hunting Great Grey Owl but also of Black Grouse. Early in the morning you have to be already in the wodden hides, which are lined up in front of a snowy area shining white in the cloudless dark sky. Gradually, the male Grouse come closer to their mating grounds. You can already hear their faint cooing.

More and more they move closer to their display site. In early March at the latest the first grouse cocks are in place on the lek sites. In the snow you can still see feather streaks from their wide-spread wings and traces of jumps of the previous days. Every male bird has its defined territory and a timely arrival might prevent battles. Nevertheless, after a short while many different fights are to be observed. Some cocks fight with almost everybody, others only defend their territory. This is often associated with a corresponding loss of feathers.

The black grouse lek lasts from mid-April to mid-May. During that time the display activity of the cocks is hightest. They fly to the lek site already an hour before sunrise, in May even two hours. The morning display lasts about five to six hours and proceeds in two stages: in the twilight and after sunrise.

Last year’s young and those older male birds that could not manage to defend their territory keep to the edges of the lek sites, display only for short periods, move around and often feed. They may visit several lek sites during this period.

If there are not displaying, the grouses can be seen in birch tops. They look like black-feathered bundles. In spring birch buds are a major part of the diet of the grouse..

The cooing of male Black Grouse can be heard in October mornings, too. The autumn bubbling of grouse cocks can be heard at the same lek sites as in spring. Only rarely a grouse hen appears in the lek site. Ornithologists explain the autumn display  by the fact, that the daylight period is again as long as at the beginning of the spring leks in March. This might affect the hormons of the males, inducing lek behavior. This is something, which also happens with other Gallinaceous bird species like Hazel Grouse (Bonasa bonasia).

It is in October again when you can observe these impressive birds on undisturbed forest roads in Scandinavia. They are pecking at gravel from the ground. In their stomach the little stones grind the ingested food. Until now they have been feeding on forest berries. But it will not take long before they have to change to the winter diet.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic.  Trips to remote places like in Finland to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The operator´s name of the workshop is Finnature. It is highly recommended. Most of other workshops run by Finnature – a tour operator based in Oulu – take place in January/February for a period of 2 – 4 days.

This nice image is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if I could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

Grey Partridges in winter in Lower Saxonia

Grey PartridgeGrey Partridges (Perdix perdix) share a hard life with many other birds of fields and meadows in nowadays agricultural steppes. One a common bird, encountered in many rural areas, this nice bird of the family of the Phasianidae, the Pheasants, Fowls & Allies is becoming more and more rare. But there are still some places where it is possible to enjoy an encounter.

In one of my regular trips through the Continue reading Grey Partridges in winter in Lower Saxonia

Parrot Crossbills drinking in a pond in Mulderskop/ Limburg

Parrot CrossbillParrot Crossbills (Loxia pytyopsittacus) close-up in a puddle while bathing. The photos on the website of the birders in the Netherlands “waarneming.nl” were really sensational. The Sunday before, I had made already for a short trip to an area nearby for the long-staying Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)​​. The Brown Shrike was a first sighting for the Netherlands. So rare Parrot Crossbills are not, but this year seems to be an irruption year. After visiting the website of the birders in the Netherlands “waarneming.nl”, we decided to look for these rare Crossbills which are seldom found in Central Europe. The target area was not far from the German border south of Nijmegen. The Parrot Crossbills (Loxia pytyopsittacus) had been present for several weeks on the border between Limburg and Gelderland already. Parrot Crossbills are currently to be found Continue reading Parrot Crossbills drinking in a pond in Mulderskop/ Limburg

Bullfinches: White-red-black balls in action

Bullfinch flying upEurasian Bullfinch, Pyrrhula pyrrhula, are usually thought-after species for the wintertime photographer. These colorful finches are now increasingly observed at the feeding tables when wintertime proceeds. Last year they could be seen with other wintering birds at the feeding sites, too. The favorite food of the birds observed in recent winters is a product made from beef tallow and fat oatmeal mixture. In many regular stores they are selling the birdseed. But the laid sunflower seeds are eaten alike. Particularly striking is the highly aggressive behavior of the bullfinches to each other. If multiple birds are in the same area, the same table of food, photography is often not possible, because as soon as a bird is flying to the feeding place, it is already chased away from the next. Especially the males are sometimes quite aggressive. Due to the shooting conditions in winter you are shooting at slow shutter speeds sometimes. Here you can make a virtue of the necessity. At 1/ 30 sec , the Finches are only dimly seen. To show the dynamics of the dispute is all the better advantage. This is beautiful to see in the Gallery. Too long exposure times, however, are not appropriate since then only colors can be seen.

It is always a fascinating experience, when not only the Bullfinch arrive at the bird table, but also Robin (Erithacus rubecula), Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella), Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea), Tits (Parus sp.) and Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs) and sometimes even Continue reading Bullfinches: White-red-black balls in action

Woodpeckers at the winter feeder

Great Spotted Woodpecker

A few years ago, I was a guest at a commercial winter feeding site for raptors. Great shooting conditions, beautiful scenery, great birds. Unfortunatelly not quite around the corner of my home located in the Eifel. ” …this I can do that, too” ,I thought. But then it turned out to be not so easy. Since there had been problems with the farmer who owned the land, then the tenant hunter. But finally I succeeded. A great advantage of my hide, built from wood and carpet remnants is that although it is right along the edge of a forest, it is only about 200 meters from my house. Of course you are thinking about the expected guests already when you plan the construction of the hide and the feeding site in front of it. Besides chickadees, finches and blackbirds, the Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) was “booked” in my plans. This is the most common woodpecker species in our landscape, not only in forests of all types, but also in urban parks and bigger gardens. And the plans turned right. After a short time this woodpecker counted to the regular guests in front of the winter hide, from which I made my shots in all distances, sometimes only 3.5 to 7 meters away. Most times he announced himself with a loud ” KiKiKiK ” before he came rushing in his undulating flight. The favorite food of the woodpeckers observed and photographed in recent winters is a product made from beef tallow and fat oatmeal mixture that is commonly known as bird seed. Hazelnuts cause very little attention, walnuts are beloved and Continue reading Woodpeckers at the winter feeder

White-tailed Eagle catching fish in Norway

White-tailed EagleWhite-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) are now at least in the eastern part of Middle Europe (as East Germany or Poland) a familiar sight . Nevertheless, it is not easy to photograph an eagle on close range. The animals are not extremely shy towards people, but they show respect and thus quite a distance from people , as it should be for wildlife.

So if you want to photograph wild eagles in Europe, you have several opportunities (including one in East German) or you do it right the first time. As far as I find out, there’s no better place to go than the Norwegian fishing village Lauvsnes near Flatanger in the province of North – Trøndelag, 200 km north-west of Trondheim. Here in the middle of Norway, Ole Martin Dahle has managed to gain confidence of some White-tailed Eagles. For several years, he offers with his company Norway Nature boat trips where you can watch the White-tailed Eagles during prey capture. Ole is noticeable in his many years of experience and he offers a professional service.

After I had observed and photographed the impressive Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) at the bait Continue reading White-tailed Eagle catching fish in Norway

Occurrence and habitat of Eurasian Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium passerinum) in Brandenburg

Eurasian Pygmy-OwlThis small owl is the sole member in Europe of a worldwide spread genus Glaucidium. The owl inhabits mainly the coniferous forest zone, especially the upland and mountain areas up to the tree line in Central Europe. But in the 19th Century this owl was widespread distributed in all the mountain ranges of central Europe and their forelands and well represented in the North German / Polish lowlands at many locations.

In the german Red List of breeding birds the pygmy owl is classified as
regular breeding native bird species but regarded as “rare”. In the last decades the population trend is positive, this is ture for the long term and at many sites for the short term, too. Additionally there are more and more records from the lowlands in recent years. A nearly comprehensive investigation in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxonia) in (2001/2002) resulted in a population count of 170-230 pairs. Particularly important here is the well established lowland population in the Lüneburger Heide (Heath), where the first records date back as far as 1977. Now (2001/2002) 23 – 35 pairs defend their territories.

More than one reason to investigate the situation in Brandenburg a state with a landscape very comparable in many topographical aspects. A similar development trend is also emerging in Brandenburg, whose maximum height is about 200 meters n. NN is. Secured older records ‘before 1990 are not available for the state. Since the first reliable records of the Eurasian Pygmy-Owl in the 1990s some areas, particularly in the south of Brandenburg were studied in greater detail. These studies did show that Continue reading Occurrence and habitat of Eurasian Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium passerinum) in Brandenburg

Copula in flight of Alpine Swift in Romania´s Carpathians

Alpine Swift During a trip from July 1st till 8th 2013 to observe birds in Romania and Bulgaria a remarkable sighting could be noted. A couple of Alpine Swift (Apus melba) was seen flying below a crag in a steep rock and copulated for several seconds. This could be seen in a beautiful gorge near the town of Zărneşti (Zarnesti), in the Piatra Craiului Nationalpark. Zarnesti is located south of Brașov (Brasov) approx.. 180km away from the capital of Romania, Bucharest.

In the Western Palearctic Alpine Swifts breed in mountains mainly in southern Europe. Like Common Swifts, they are migratory, and winter in southern Africa. As happened in that gorge the species builds its nest on cliff faces typically. Alpine Swifts build their nests in colonies in a suitable cliff hole or cave. It is well known, that Alpine Swifts spend most of their lives in the air, living on the insects they catch but up to now, a copula in flight could not be photographed. At least Bird-lens could not find a photo on the web. Consequently Bird-lens is proud to show images of a flight copula of this remarkable species.

As is mentioned in the „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“ (Handbook of the birds of Central Europe), Volume 9 “Columbiformes – Piciformes” by Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim, the male Alpine Swift usually holds the female with the beak in the neck and with the feet in the back plumage of the quiet female partner in copulation. While the female raises its tail, the male winds down his abdomen. For the Common Swift (Apus apus), also a copula in flight is described. Bird-lens is proud to show images of a flight copula of the much scarcer species Alpine Swift. A copula in flight resembles a courtship flight. During courtship Continue reading Copula in flight of Alpine Swift in Romania´s Carpathians

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) on Norderney

Northern HarrierNorderney, the most densely populated island in the german Wadden Sea is with good reason called a bird paradise. Terns, Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), Common Redshank (Tringa tetanus) , Brent Geese (Branta bernicla), Greylag Geese (Anser anser)and many other birds of water are to be found there, as well as the rare Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), or raptors as Kestrels, Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus) and Buzzards. The birds are back from their wintering grounds in southern Europe and Africa and have reached their breeding grounds on Norderney safe.

On the meadows at the airport breed Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) defend clamoring their turf against intrusive neighbors in the Grohdeheller, Common Redshank (Tringa tetanus) flutes from their perch on the fence posts along the salt marshes in the Grohdepolder and the dunes to the east of the island host again a large breeding colony of gulls. Breeding pairs of the rare Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) live on the island, too. The Northern Harrier, Circus cyaneus, also called the Hen Harrier was the main reason to arrange a trip to Norderney in early May this year. Finally the Northern Harriers have returned from their wintering areas. On a trip to China – on Happy Island – Northern Harrier could be photographed very successfully on migration  -interesting enough only females. The courtship and breeding period should now be photographed.

For shots of the beginning of courtship, it was too late. Beginning and mid of April you can observe Continue reading Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) on Norderney

Red Kites in flight with buzzards over corn fields

Red Kite low over fieldsThe last days in May were stormy days in the Vogelsberg on the edge of the Wetterau. At least 8 Red Kites (Milvus milvus) flew over 3 various nearby maize fields along with at least 25 Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) and two Black Kites (Milvus migrans). The were flying in the upwinds very easily. Obviously they liked the windy weather with some sunshine and than dark clouds of thunderstorm very much. Such a large assembly of birds of prey, especially Red Kites in such a small area I had not seen before. From time to time, the raptors landed and caught a – not determinable – small prey and sit down among the green stalks. After a while, even a White Stork, Ciconia ciconia, appeared and searched the field for food. A great picture. The Red Kites are said to be convicted robbers to other birds by attacking them to leave their food. But this could not be observed. Certainly one hour the kites could be seen circling low over the green rows of corn field. Some individuals of the Red Kites were only 15 meters from the small country road near Ulfa away. Once the car stopped, they flew on a little further and then circled over the field.

Red Kites reach a size of 70 cm and a wingspan of about 160 cm. The breeding range of the Red Kites is limited to Central Europe in light deciduous and mixed forests of the lower mountains. Only part of the population Continue reading Red Kites in flight with buzzards over corn fields

Great Crested Grebes on floating nest

Great Crested Grebe on nestGreat Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) are common birds in Germany. Its population is therefore largely constant. Following severe persecution in the 19th century a significant recovery was observed since the mid-20th century. The grebes benefited mainly from the increase in the food supply of small fish in nutrient-rich waters. However, their habitat by water sports activities as well as fertilizers and pesticides from agriculture is also threatened from time to time. Not to be underestimated is the illegal persecution by fishermen.

It was a big surprise when people told me that in the immediate vicinity of my home a couple of grebes should breed. The area was well known as a recreational area – a lake with pedal boats, swimming & bathing areas, round trips, anglers and dog meeting points. I did not remember to have identified any riparian vegetation zone with reeds or rushes. Only mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) had their paradise on earth there, because they were fed by careless walkers regularly with tons of bread. At such a lake could never grebes breed, so I thought! So I let the matter rest.

About six weeks later I was looking for an opportunity to test the autofocus of my newly purchased camera, a Canon EOS 1 Mark IV with a Canon 400mm f4,0 DO. I remembered the Mallards Continue reading Great Crested Grebes on floating nest

Great Grey Owl, Strix nebulosa, in Finland

Great Grey Owl low over snowDuring a workshop near the northern part of the Baltic sea in Finland from 5th – 8th of April 2013 these excellent images of a hunting Great Grey Owl were shot.

Wow, what an excellent bird. Just imagine, like this bird is sitting in a tall tree or on a barn roof concentrating to hunt on a vole on the floor which is 100 – 300 meters distant under 20 – 30 cm thick, insulating snow. This in spite of all kinds of ambient noise in the surroundings.

The Great Grey Owl, which we – the participants of the workshop – were able so observe and photograph on several mornings. This would by no means apply to all owls in that area. I guess we have been lucky now in early April. Most of other workshops run by Finnature – a tour operator from Oulu – take place in January/February for a period of 2 – 4 days. Since these owls do not accept feeding with dead mice, you are dependent on the mercy of the right places / times.

Not at least for aesthetic reasons photographing the hunting of voles in the winter landscape with a mix of forest and meadows is the best. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee of photographic results. The most important is, to locate the right place (and the right owl), then to find the owl in the landscape, then to be a patient person who can stand it – sometimes for 1 hour – at -10 ° Celsius to stand in the snow and hope that this bird is hungry enough for hunting. There is no time to waste, Great Grey Owls are nomadic Continue reading Great Grey Owl, Strix nebulosa, in Finland

Common Buzzard at the bait in wintertime

Common BuzzardTo observe and photograph Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) at the bait in wintertime in good numbers  – sometimes 8 individuals on one occasion. Is this possilbe right in the center of a heavy industrialized country like Germany? Yes, it is!

The valley of the river „Leine“ and the surrounding hills called “Leinebergland” is not famous of being one of Germany´s birding hot spots. But in wintertime the charming countryside between the cities of Hildesheim to the east and Hameln to the west is invaded by keen birdwatchers and bird photographers to shoot images of Common Buzzards and other excellent birds on a winter feeding site.

Having been spend one day on invitation of Wolf-Dieter Peest has been very productive – as you can see in the gallery. Wolf-Dieter offers Wildlife Workshops but also the chance to sit in one (or more) of his hides located on ponds, small streams or at the border of agricultural fields. The Leinebergland 30 km south of the city of Hannover, with its many gravel pits, is a paradise for nature photographers. In the early 70s many gravel mining pits were built along the line between Hanover and Göttingen. Having exploited these areas, the remaining ponds and lakes are now on the way back to nature again and offer a new habitat to a huge number of animal and plant species. Many of these ponds are real paradises for nature lovers and the nature- of course. A description of the locations written in german, you will find here!
Wolf-Dieter managed to lease a good number of attractive properties over the last 15 years. There are ideal conditions for a photographic passion Continue reading Common Buzzard at the bait in wintertime

New world warblers in pine-oak forest in Mexico, Part II

…….on the way back back to Patzcuaro I had not been in the pine mountain-forest interspersed with oaks for a long time when I encountered my first Mexican (Grey breasted) Jay of the day. It is a flock, which roam sometimes on the road, sometimes on the lower branches of the pines in search of food. I had to stop and immediately started to keep the situation photographically. Short after I discover the best mixed flock, which I saw so far on this journey. Everywhere there were yellow, red, blue, orange, green colours which obtain the impression of a multicolored Mobilés. Maybe you get an impression when you see the gallery. Some species of bird such as American Treecreeper (Certhia americana), White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis), Mexican Chickadee (Poecile sclateri) and Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) are related close to species of old world (palearctic) bird species, others, like the Pine Flycatcher (Empidonax affinis) and the Tufted Flycatcher (Mitrephanes phaeocercus) Continue reading New world warblers in pine-oak forest in Mexico, Part II

Birds in autumn in the Comana Natural Park / Romania

Having seen a spectacular bird migration in the Macin Mountains and at the Black Sea Coast near Constanta we decided to look for birds on a different spot. Maybe not really an important migration hotspot but a wetland near the capital of Romania should be still good at the end of September.

An excellent choice. Arriving early at around 7:00h the activity of the birds were already high. The fog was still hovering over the open water dotted with sedge and reed. We stopped the car from the country road on a dam connecting the Comana village with it´s famous Comana Monastery to the neighboring villages.

Immediately we saw masses of ducks and egrets on the water. A short walk along the newly built concrete dam (thanks to aid from the European Community) gave excellent views on the wetland.

But the highlight, which drew our attention was a feeding Little Crake, Porzana parva. This time of the day was just right. We did manage to observe a single individual for almost 15 minutes – sometimes really close. But the next birds were already waiting for us. A Spotted Redshank, Tringa erythropus, was quite relaxed when we approached him carefully. Just a few meters more and we saw a young Common Nightingale, Luscinia megarhynchos, preening in the rays of the early morning sun. Beautiful images!

Another highlights were a Sedge Warbler, Acrocephalus schoenobaenus, feeding on a spider, picking him out of his net. A comrade of the Sedge Warbler was caught by a Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus, in the meantime. This shows, that all is within the cycle of life.

The Comana Natural Park (Romanian: Parcul Natural Comana) is a protected area situated in the southern part of Romania, on the administrativ territory of Giurgiu County. The park is located at the Neajlov Delta and is just a 40-minute drive from downtown Bucharest. More information you will find here.

Other successful shootings you can see under: www.bird-lens.com.

NABU | Vogel des Jahres 2013: Die Bekassine

Common Snipe is “Bird of the Year 2013” NABU and the national federation for Birds (LBV), NABU partner in Bavaria have voted in Germany endangered Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) to the “Bird of the Year 2013” as you can see here:  NABU | Vogel des Jahres 2013: Die Bekassine. More information, you will find following the link to the Landesbund für Vogelschutz in Bayern e.V (LBV).

In Germany actually there are only 5500-6700 breeding pairs left – about half the population of 20 years ago. The Common Snipe is to advertise as an ambassador for the preservation of wetlands and wet meadows. The deaf great snipe bird with beige-brown plumage and the distinctive beak is due to his vociferous courtship flight often called “complaints bird”.

“The snipe had really good reason to complain because of bogs and marshes their habitat is fast disappearing. It is high time the last Moore strictly protected in Germany – in the interests of climate protection. The same applies to wetlands. We can not accept the fact that lowered the water table and dewatered areas, grasslands plowed, cultivated crops such as corn for biogas plants over large areas, and degraded peat meadows are planted in, “said NABU Vice President Helmut Opitz.

“The fact that the Snipe is threatened with extinction in Germany, is mainly due to the systematic destruction of their habitats. The habitat Continue reading NABU | Vogel des Jahres 2013: Die Bekassine

Booted Warbler and other vagrants on Helgoland

During a trip from October 08th till 13th 2012 to experience migrating birds on Helgoland several remarkable sighting could be noted. A Booted Warbler, Hippolais caligata, was seen at the red sandstone cliff at the southern corner of Helgoland, at the so-called “Kringel” on the 9th of October 2012. On the same day a Siberian Stonechat, Saxicola maura, was seen in the area near the sports field and a Rosy Starling, Pastor (Sturnus) roseus, was seen in the Kurpark. Further remarkable sightings on that day was a Barred Warbler, Turtle Dove, a Wryneck and the Yellow-browed Warbler.
Although the Booted Warbler thrilled the many birdwatchers already, that feeling could be even increased. On the following day, a strange thrush could be observed. Short ID-discussion revealed a Turdus atrogularis, a Black-throated Thrush, a recent split from the Dark-throated Thrush, Turdus ruficollis. The bird showed only for a few moments and disappeared for more than 2 hours. In the evening – just before dusk – it was seen briefly again. The lucky few were happy but the many frustrated birders who did not see it expected that the birds will leave in the night. This due to the fact, that a calm night with low wind was forecasted. It was a happy surprise, that on the following days until – at least – the 15th of October the the thrush showed up again – albeit with long times in between suddenly appearing on the steep slope just below a place called Falm on the so-called Oberland.

Thus an excellent bird sighting for Continue reading Booted Warbler and other vagrants on Helgoland

Blue Tit migration on southern tip of Falsterbo/ Sweden

During the last week of September 2012, huge numbers of Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) have been observed in Nabben at the peninsula of Falsterbo, the south-western tip of Sweden. 24,000 individuals has been migrating at Nabben which is 10% more than what is seen in a whole year in average. In the Migration Counts run by the Falsterbo Vogelstation  you see, that only the years 1996, 2003 and 2008 can compete with the migration numbers of this year.

In his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 13/I „Passeriformes, Muscicapidae – Paridae“ Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim mentioned that all migrating behavior is shown by the Blue Tit. Some are resident bird, some (especially the youngs) show dismigration Continue reading Blue Tit migration on southern tip of Falsterbo/ Sweden

Common Wood-Pigeon & other birds in elderberry shrub

The elder of the species black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) in my garden right outside my work room window is a special attraction. Not only for birds but also for insects and small mammals such as mice. In the elder I’ve seen birds the size of a Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus) to the smallest passerine species such as the Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus). In total, there are 25 species, including Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius), Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris), Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus), Wood Nuthatch (Sitta europaea), Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), 4 types of Sylvia – species, Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata), Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus), Hedge Accentor (Prunella modularis), European Serin (Serinus serinus), European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), Eurasian Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) and both species of sparrows.

Two interesting reason make the elder a magnet for birds. For one, the elder show the rich-black fruits starting in June and bear the fruit for 2 months. On the other hand, the birds after having made their way through moulting do roam around again or even take the first few meters on the way to the winter quarters. The Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) also Continue reading Common Wood-Pigeon & other birds in elderberry shrub

Black Terns catching flies in the Danube Delta

I was almost titeling Black Tern flycatching… but then I found an interesting nice article in Wikipedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_(birds)) to the meaning of feeding strategies of birds involving catching flying insects in the air. Wikipedia says, that the term “flycatching” refers to a technique of sallying out from a perch to snatch an insect and then returning to the same or a different perch.” Ok, this is not what I saw in mid May 2012 in the Danube Delta. For sure, a flock of approx. 50 Black Terns (Chlidonias niger) in a joined effort with some Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus) were catching flies in a swift, elegant and almost effortless looking manner but now I know, you should not call it “flycatching”.
2 species of Chlidonias – Terns, Black Terns and Whiskered Tern are breeding in the Danube Delta. Mid of May they have just arrived from their wintering grounds and they are in urgent need of nutrient-rich food after the strenuous migration and in preparation of breeding. A mass occurrence of black flies is the right food to fill up resources for the tasks ahead. The gallery show more pictures of the terns in the air that one unforgettable evening mid of May in the Danube Delta/ Romania.
According to a very nice article in Wikipedia. The various methods of taking insects Continue reading Black Terns catching flies in the Danube Delta

Cattle Egret taking a shower under a lawn sprinkler

This species of heron is renown to spend a lot of time close to livestock like grazing cattle and grab insects and worms that their hooves disturb. But on these pictures you can see, that the Cattle Egret feels attracted to other human environment as well. Weather the egret seeks the spray of the lawn sprinkler in search of insects and worms or weather it just like a cool shower running along its feathers is not clear.  But anyway, a great impression which couldn´t be missed. Without haste the bird marched under the spray of the water from one side of the green rondell to the other.  The images were shot in March 2012 in the park called Green Mubazzarah near Al Ain/ UAE at the foot of the Hajar Mountains. Green Mubazzarah is a picnic area with streams, grass and chalets at the northern base of Jebel Hafeet before the road starts to climb upwards towards the summit of Jebel Hafeet. Lawn sprinklers are abundant and in full action in the mornings to preserve the green in a extremely desert environment. The green in the desert does not only attract Cattle Egret and other birds present year-round in that area like Chukar, Grey Francolin, Laughing Dove und Eurasian Collared-Dove but also many migrating birds like e.g. Blue Rock-Thrush, Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush, Eurasian Hoopoe, Pied, Northern, Isabelline and Desert Wheatear, Wagtails and Water Pipits.
The birding strategy is to go early in the morning. The official opening times is: 9am to 9pm, but cleaning service start right after dawn so you might be able Continue reading Cattle Egret taking a shower under a lawn sprinkler

White Pelican having taken flight

Just to complement the blog Great White Pelican taking flight in Danube Delta, this blog shows the moment just after starting from the water surface. Even here, you see that the Pelican with the scientific name Pelecanus onocrotalus  with up to 11 kg weight needs quite an effort to evenutally take-off and fly. Hope that these kind of images will be possible forever in the beautiful in Danube Delta.
To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species Continue reading White Pelican having taken flight

Great White Pelican takes flight in Danube Delta

The Danube Delta is home of two species of pelicans. The pelican is the symbol of the Delta. Here is home to Europe’s most important colony: 3.500 pairs live in the Danube Delta . we decided to visit this site in May 2012 on a photographer trip with Sakertours. One of the highlights were photoshots of starting Great White Pelican, Pelecanus onocrotalus and Dalmatian pelican, Pelecanus crispus.
With his 9 – 11 kg of weight the adult Great White Pelican is one of the heaviest and largest flying birds in the world. Ahead of this pelican species in weight is only the Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus), the Great Bustard (Otis tarda) and the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor). To provide his lungs with enough oxygen, he has five air sacs, which extend through the entire abdominal cavity. A special technique is also the flapping flight, with which he strikes 70 times per minute, a gull (Laridae), e.g. needs 180 beats per minute. With its 3.60 m wide wings the Pelican is able to use (as one of only a few water birds) the thermals by the rising warm air for circling in the air without any physical effort of his own.
Like many birds, the pelican has a very light skeleton. His bones Continue reading Great White Pelican takes flight in Danube Delta

Common Kestrel feeding on trapped bird

loud alarms calls of Blackbirds draw my attention to a place in neighbor´s garden. First I saw a moving wing – white with black pattern. Then the moustache. Hey, this is a female Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, feeding on a Eurasian Blackbird. The dead Blackbird had been accidentally trapped by a fruit net, provided to protect garnet berry, Ribes rubrum, from marauding birds.
Just after I showed up, the kestrel flew away with a piece of his prey in her bill. But only after a while she came back and hung down at the wrapped bird. Unfortunately, I could not reach the neighbor’s yard. Ok, the bird was dead, but it could have been that even the Kestrel gets tangled in the net. Finally, the neighbor had seen the incident and also untied the dead blackbird off the net. A little later I could see the kestrels, as she was feeding with relish the blackbird-meal on a stone wall. Finally, she flew away, not without being aggressivly harassed by the excited fellows of the dead blackbird. Other shootings of that session you can see in the gallery under: www.bird-lens.com.
Common Kestrels eat almost exclusively mouse-sized mammals: typically voles, but also shrews and true Continue reading Common Kestrel feeding on trapped bird

Long-eared Owl chased by a Magpie

A rainy day in May at Romania´s Black Sea coast. Some good birds for a western birdwatcher like Reed, Corn and Black-headed Bunting, Great Reed-Warbler, Barred Warbler and a flying Lesser Spotted Eagle could be seen. A big surprise was what you see on the pictures: a Long-eared Owl, Asio otus, staying in a bush, eventually flying away. After a few seconds a Magpie showed up. Here you can see the Long Eared Owl chased by a Black-billed Magpie in flight. The images were photographed in the nice countryside of Romania north of the city of Constanta.
Basic habitat requirements for the Long-eared Owl are small forests or hedges with some trees. Preferred are open countrysides which nest-sites of Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) or Magpie (Pica pica). It is not clear, why the Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica) chased the owl. It is well reknown that magpies could be very aggressive in defending their nest and/or brood. Probably that has been the case Continue reading Long-eared Owl chased by a Magpie

Robin attack on Cuckoo´s head

The European Common Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus, has always been a miraculous bird. His loud and simple song and his arrival as a migrant in Europe signaling spring time made him one of the best-known birds in Europe. Quite recently his migration made the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) track Cuckoos via attached satellite-tracking devices to find out more about their important stop-over sites and wintering destinations on the way to and from Africa. Very reknown – but not often seen – is the cuckoo´s notorious behavior to parasite other birds brood. Especially this attidude made him unique in the awareness also for people in Europe who are not claiming to be keen birdwatchers.
During a stay in the wild landscape of masuria in north-eastern Poland I witnessed the long-lasting fight between a female Common Cuckoo and a pair of Robins, Erithacus rubecula, over a nest inside Continue reading Robin attack on Cuckoo´s head

Syrian Woodpecker and Fall webworm moth

with Fall Webworm Moth (Hyphantria cunea) in Bazilescu Park, Bucharest

The Fall webworm moth (Hyphantria cunea) seems to like the Bazilescu Park, a small park near the home of Cristian Mihai in Bucharest. During the last weeks beginning in May he saw maybe hundreds of individuals from this species, most of them entirely white, only a few showing a variable number of black dots (see first two pics in his article on birdforum). During this time, Cristian Mihai had the opportunity to see a lot of birds eating them. They are easy to find, because they are easy to spot on the dark bark of the trees, sometimes gathered in large numbers (for instance, in a morning, Cristian Mihai saw a tree with more than twenty moths from this species on its bark). During this season, birds obviously need a lot of food for chicks, so this “invasion” seems to be highly appreciated by them, as you can see in the image of a Syrian Woodpecker here.
Continue reading Syrian Woodpecker and Fall webworm moth

Common Snipe in courtship flight

Common Snipes, Gallinago gallinago, are always a prime birdwatchter´s and bird photographers target bird. A beautiful patterned wader that stays hidden normally in the grass, but is seen sometimes in the open; even allowing approach at short distance. If the snipe is startled it will burst out from its cover and fly in a zig-zag pattern to evade predators.
In the internet normally you will find thousands of images with the bird photographed on a fence post. This is the easy way. There are only a few exceptions where you can see Common Snipes in flight in the internet. Bird-lens is proud to show this bird in flight and even in display flight during courtship.
Continue reading Common Snipe in courtship flight

Young Pale Crag-Martin in flight over Oman

Pale Crag-Martin over the Oman Desert. Early spring in the desert could be very rewarding as surprises could arise everywhere. The birder has a chance to see birds in migration and to see the first birds breeding. A surprise was this Pale Crag-Martin, Hirundo obsolete or Ptyonoprogne obsolete patrolling over the little nice oasis of Mudday in the north-western corner of Dhofar/ Oman.

Interesting features of this particular bird were a yellow gape flange and a whitish-grey rump contrasting with the lead-grey back. These characters suggest a juvenile individual. The flight however has been very swift and showed that the bird was not an inexperienced one. Photos of a young Pale Crag-Martin I have never seen in the internet galleries. Bird-Lens is proud to present this nice pictures and more you will find in the gallery under Pale Crag-Marting of Oman. Bird Lens hopes that these images are of value for other birders, too.

Pale Crag-Martin, Hirundo obsoleta is a split of the widespread Rock Martin, Hirundo fuligula, and has been treated as a subspecies of the Rock Martin,  Hirundo fuligula obsoleta before.

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A Steppe Eagle, Aquila nipalensis: From Eye to Eye

Most pictures of Steppe Eagle you find in the internet are from falconry or zoos. But the keen birdwatchter want the right stuff. Here you can see Steppe Eagle, Aquila nipalensis, in the wild. Photographed in the desert environment of Dhofar/Oman near the city of Salalah. To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic, Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic. Trips to remote places to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. Part of the images gained are photos of Baillon’s Crake, Heuglin’s Gull and Imperial Eagle. The behaviour of Steppe Eagles is not very eagle-like. They prefer to scavange but are able to kill their own prey, too. This is the reason, that Steppe Eagles can be found on garbage dumps in Arabia where they find easy food supply on carcasses of livestock and slaughterhouse waste. Continue reading A Steppe Eagle, Aquila nipalensis: From Eye to Eye

Purple-Blue over a sea of grass….

Observing bird migration in the UAE is one of the prime birdwatchter´s target. But also the resident species are targets in their own rights. This is true for sure for one of the most colorful birds in UAE, the Indian Roller, Coracias benghalensis, which used to be called the “Blue Jay”. Some people have even described the Indian Roller as a very colorful woodpecker. This species is a member of the roller family of birds. They are found mainly in the Indian Subcontinent, but also in Arabia. A special feature of the Indian Roller is the aerobatic displays of the male during the breeding season. In the Emirates they are very commonly seen in open grassland irrigated in the middle of the desert but also in urban parks and gardens. Continue reading Purple-Blue over a sea of grass….

White-tailed Eagles in Hungary

The last December in Hungary was still more or less snowless. A trip to the eastern part of Hungary, the Hortobágy pussta made great photos at feeding stations in that vast area possible. There I visited the so-called eagle hides – especially constructed to photograph White-tailed Eagles. The best pictures you will find under “Photo” or in the gallery of the “Pictures shop”. The hides are located in the different parts of the Hortobágy National Park, some close to forest patches which are regularly used by the eagles for roosting. Other are installed in the middle of open steppe habitat.  To attract the eagles to these feeding stations, fish carcasses were provided by the national park rangers and a tour operator. The sites attracted Caspian and some species of birds from the crow family as well. Continue reading White-tailed Eagles in Hungary

Best selling Bird Picture 2011; the River warbler

Now with all sales of images of the last year examind, Bird Lens is proud to say, that this image of a River warbler, Locustella fluviatilis, Schlagschwirl (German), Krekelzanger (Dutch); Locustelle fluviatile (French) is the most successful; in terms of number of publications and revenues.  The photo of this nice singing individual was shot on May, 22nd 2004 at the Teerofenbruecke near Schwedt. This area is a well-known gate to the national park “Lower Odertal”, a national park created in 1995 in the northeast of Brandenburg/ Germany near the border to poland. The wide river with its riparian forest is habitat for many rare and protected plants and animals, among them beavers. The regular distribution for the breeding grounds of the River warbler are from eastern Germany to Russia, north to Finland and south to Romania. In the non-breeding season it winters between Zambia and north-eastern South Africa.
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